The GMC Acadia has an all-new look for 2017, making it a standout among its rivals in the midsize crossover sector. An updated look is not all the latest Acadia has going for it. GMC shortened the wheelbase by 6.4 inches and shaved 700 pounds off the total weight, making it more compact and easier to drive, especially in traffic.
While the cargo volume drops significantly, from 116 cubic feet down to 79 cubic feet, GMC has added a number of nice touches that help retain storage space. The second- and third-row seats easily fold completely flat, and a couple of underfloor storage bins make storing small items out of sight easy and convenient.
Automatic climate control, a 110-volt outlet in the second row, five USB ports scattered throughout the vehicle and a 4G hotspot make sure everyone is always connected.
What's New for 2017
The all-new design is the big news for 2017. It sports a bold new design, a distinctive grill and wraparound headlights as well as a variety of wheel options.
In addition to the new design, the 2017 Acadia is also sporting a new engine and transmission option. A brand new four-cylinder engine that gets an impressive 21 mpg in the city comes standard and is paired to a six-speed transmission that is equipped with advanced stop/start technology. The optional 3.6-liter V6 engine with an estimated 310 horsepower is better suited to heavy-duty users who may need the towing power of a V6.
Choosing Your GMC Acadia
The 2017 model year adds another decision that must be made when choosing your Acadia. You will need to determine whether you want a four-cylinder engine under the hood or to upgrade to a trim that offers the V6. The base model SL and SLE-1 are only available with the four-cylinder engine while all of the higher trim levels either offer the V6 as an option or standard equipment.
Every GMC Acadia is nicely outfitted for this price range and includes standard equipment such as a programmable power lift gate, keyless open and remote start, automatic climate control and a 7-inch touchscreen. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also standard across all trim levels.
Moving past the base models adds standard features such as Side Blind Zone with Lane Change Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Rear Park Assist, upgrades the touchscreen to 8 inches and adds in a Bose 8-speaker audio system.
Prices range from $29,995 for the base model SL, up to $45,845 for the top-of-the-line Denali.
The Acadia is available in six trim levels: SL, SLE-1, SLE-2, SLT-1, SLT-2 and the Denali.
The Denali is a high priced luxury vehicle and while it offers some great features, the SLT-2 may be the better value. On the lower end of the price spectrum, the SLE-2 offers great standard features at a very affordable price.
The auto industry places a high priority on continuity and incremental change, but every so often the opportunity to make a major product move becomes too compelling to ignore. We have an all-new GMC Acadia for 2017 that's seven inches shorter and 700 pounds lighter than its predecessor. The Acadia wears its new form well; the shift to a more mainstream size and attitude brings clear benefits and gives crossover buyers a seriously compelling option that matches up very well against segment mainstays.
Pricing and Equipment
The Acadia has been completely redesigned and refocused for 2017, going from GM's large Lambda platform to a midsize chassis shared with the sophisticated Cadillac XT5. Your choice of trim level will determine whether you get the 194-horsepower four-cylinder or 310-horsepower V6. All-wheel drive is available with both engine. EPA fuel economy estimates range from 21 city/26 highway for a four-cylinder, front-drive Acadia to 18 city/25 highway with the V6 and all-wheel drive.
Trim levels start with the base SL, which has an MSRP just under $30,000 and includes three-zone climate control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a much-appreciated rearview camera. The SLE and SLT are split into two sub-levels, -1 and -2, with a steady increase in features (heated seats, leather seats, Bose stereo, etc.) and price (the SLE-1 starts at $33,375, the SLT-2 at $42,675) from level to level. The Acadia Denali (as always, a name sure to amuse folks who collect trail maps) brings touchscreen navigation and plenty of brightwork for an asking price of $45,845, plus fees.
A broad range of contemporary safety gear (automatic front braking, lane minders, blind zone alerts, parking assists) is either standard or available on the Acadia.
The Denali is a serious contender at the luxury end of the mainstream, featuring the full safety suite and ventilated seats, a hands-free liftgate, and a high-tech Continuously Variable Ride Control suspension.
The All Terrain package, which includes some driveline revisions and black trim, is available on all SLE and SLT models.
In a clear nod to one of its intended uses, the Acadia's standard backup camera includes graphics to ease the often-frustrating task of lining up a trailer hitch.
GMC's clear intention was to create a vehicle capable of battling for sales in the broad middle of the intensely competitive midsize crossover market, and the execution fulfills every intention. The Acadia is a solid, capable, very usable vehicle that's pleasantly suited to everyday driving.
Dropping 700 pounds will quicken anyone's moves, and so the Acadia is now a much more responsive and manageable vehicle.
Most Acadias will be built with the V6 motor, which serves up plenty of sable power.
The radical weight loss provides benefits beyond handling. Fuel efficiency is noticeably better this year.
The Acadia's handling may be improved compared to its plus-size predecessor, but body control is still less than ideal in tight corners and at high cruising speeds.
The four-cylinder engine is adequate for daily-driver duty, but strains under any significant load.
Rugged looks aside, the Acadia isn't much of an off-roader. Even the All-Terrain package is more aesthetic than functional.
GM's interior design studios have been on a roll lately, and the Acadia's cabin is the newest beneficiary of their styling and packaging skills. The driving environment is straightforward and attractive, and comfort levels are high enough to minimize passenger grumbling on long trips.
Interior controls strike a very nice balance between touchscreen flexibility and the gratifying feel (and usability) of traditional knobs.
The seats are genuinely comfortable for the long haul.
The Denali's trim and fittings are upscale enough to feel like they belong in a different, more expensive car.
Adults will not be comfortable for long (if at all) in the third row.
The Acadia unfortunately revives a venerable GM tradition of fake wood trim that bears little resemblance to actual lumber.
The Most Pleasant Surprise
It's difficult enough to maintain competitiveness in a market segment; it's another level of risk and effort altogether to mount a new challenge against established powers. GMC is intentionally pitting the new Acadia against some very well-respected and popular rivals, and by every indication it has produced a vehicle that's immediately competitive on its merits.
The Least Pleasant Surprise
We know that mainstream crossovers rarely see any off-road duty more strenuous than parking on the grass at a large event, so taking a pass on heavy and expensive off-road hardware is usually understandable. Still, we'd like to see the All Terrain package live up to its name with a more assertive attitude and some extra capability.
The Bottom Line
The Acadia is a serious and well-measured entry into a fiercely competitive segment. It's better matched to both the real world and modern market preferences than its predecessor, and is worthy of serious consideration from customers looking for a comfortable vehicle which can manage heavy tasks in any weather.